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Automotive News, October 2017

Jaguar Land Rover has been revealed as the new name behind plans for a $40m development in Staffordshire.  JLR is investing in a new 52-acre site storage facility at Stone Business Park.

 

The massive new development will provide secure storage facilities for 6,500 vehicles and is expected to create around 75 permanent jobs.

 

Birmingham-based Stoford Developments will be delivering the new facility.  Director Tony Nash said “This development will bring significant inward investment into the county and represents a major commitment to the region by Jaguar Land Rover, once of the World’s leading luxury car makers.”

 

The site will primarily act as a new vehicle distribution centre accommodating up to 6,500 vehicles.  It will provide JLR with a high quality national delivery hub in a central location offering excellent transport links to the motorway network.

 

The plans also expand on storage expansion at both its plants in Castle Bromwich and Solihull.  JLR has already been given planning permission to build a new logistics facility and car park on land close to its Lode Lane site.  JLR has also obtained new land around the Castle Bromwich site so it can store new vehicles there including the in-demand F-Pace.

 

The company is now producing vehicles at such a rate that the additional storage space is required ahead of transfer to various ports for export.

 

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The new Coventry-built electric London Taxi has been awarded a major title for its commitment to improving air quality – even though it has yet to be brought into full service.

 

Winning the Low Carbon Car/Van Manufacturer of the Year category at the 2017 Low Carbon Champions Awards, the London Electric Vehicle Company formerly London Taxi Company – beat two major car makers both synonymous with their longstanding commitment to electric and low emission vehicles, Renault and Toyota.

 

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Industrial giant Tata is set to invest up to £1bn in a new vehicle research centre at the University of Warwick, a senior figure at the university has told the press.

 

The National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) will be used by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to develop and test new electric, light weight and semi-autonomous vehicles, and will be Europe’s largest automotive research and development facility when it opens next summer.

 

Tata, which owns JLR, is already providing the majority of the £150m initial cost of the project, with the UK government contributing £15m.

 

Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, chairman of the university’s Warwick Manufacturing Group, said investment in a range of hi-tech machinery by the Indian-owned conglomerate would take its total spend to ten figures. He said: “Eventually, with all the equipment and research facilities, it’ll probably be £1bn…. They’re very serious about this centre.”

 

The 355,000 sq ft building will create 1,000 jobs and help secure another 3,000 in R&D tier one suppliers, as well as train the next generation of vehicle engineers.

 

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BMW is in talks to create a Chinese joint venture in an effort to expand the Mini brand into the biggest and fastest growing car market.

 

The talks with Great Wall Motors, China’s seventh-largest carmaker and the biggest producer of sport utility vehicles, would not affect jobs in the UK, a person familiar with the situation said.

 

The joint venture would be focused on manufacturing an electric version of the Mini in China as part of an effort to meet the country’s regulations encouraging electric vehicle production, set to go into effect in 2019, the person added. The deal was not about “outsourcing’ production or reducing capacity of Mini’s production site in Oxford, nor was it related to Brexit.

“We are talking about additional growth, not outsourcing,” the person said. “If you look at Mini, it’s British in terms of origin but it has further potential to grow. That growth can’t just come I from Oxford.”

 

Earlier this year BMW chose Oxford instead of the Netherlands or Germany for forthcoming production of the electric Mini, following months of lobbying from the UK government.

 

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Redditch-based engineering group, GKN has opened a new UK Innovation Centre for its automotive division. The centre, in Abingdon, will focus on developing state-of-the-art vehicle technologies and systems.

 

It will use GKN’s expertise in electrified drivelines, lightweight structures, composite materials and additive manufacturing to create a range of new technologies for next-generation vehicles.

 

Central to GKN’s new official partnership with the Panasonic Jaguar Racing Formula E team, the UK Innovation Centre will also lead on delivering new components and technologies for the Jaguar Formula E electric race car. The opening coincides with an announcement confirming a raft of senior management changes within the group.

 

It has confirmed that group finance director, Adam Walker will leave the business on November 10. His replacement is Jos Sclater, who will take over from the same date.

Phil Swash, CEO of GKN Driveline, will assume responsibility for the Wheels and Structures and Off Highway Powertrain businesses which currently report to Mr Walker, from November 1. His title will change to chief executive, GKN Automotive to reflect his expanded responsibilities.

 

Finally, Hans Büthker, currently CEO Fokker Technologies, will assume the role of chief executive, GKN Aerospace from January 1, 2018 and will also become a member of the Executive Committee from that date. Mr Büthker joined GKN with the acquisition of Fokker Technologies in 2015 and has held a number of roles within Fokker and its former owners Arle and Stork over the past 20 years.

 

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A global automotive supplier has agreed a new deal to expand its operation in the West Midlands.

 

Grupo Antolin is a 1st tier automotive supplier of interior trim systems and components to major OEM’s from multiple sites throughout the UK.

 

The Spanish company currently occupies 70,000 sq ft at Barton Business Park, near Burton-upon-Trent. It has signed a 15-year lease with site owner St. Modwen to expand into a newly-built 113,000 sq ft unit, adjacent to its existing plot.

 

 

 

Ian Romano, Development Director at St. Modwen, said: “Grupo Antolin has been an occupier at Barton Business Park for 10 years and their expansion at Barton reinforces the strength of the automotive industry in the Midlands, which is a key market for us.”

 

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The UK new car market plunged more than 9% in September as consumer and business confidence fell away. The fall, the first time the important September market has fallen in six years, saw new registrations decline by 9.3% to 426,170 units.

 

Diesel sales fell by more than a fifth (21.7%) amidst concerns over tough new emissions regulations. In contrast, demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles rose 41%.

 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has cited economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans for the fall in consumer confidence. Nevertheless, sales fell across all sectors, with demand from business, fleet and private buyers down -5.2%, -10.1% and -8.8% respectively.

 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern.

 

“Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases. The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges.

 

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Ford’s new boss has outlined plans which he says will make the US car giant “fit” to compete in a changing industry.

 

Jim Hackett said Ford would shift resources from traditional cars to SUVs and trucks, while investing in electric power and tech services. The firm will also automate its manufacturing processes more to help to cut costs by $14bn (£10.5bn).

 

Mr Hackett identified the goals after a 100-day review. He became head of the company in May, replacing Mark Fields, who had been in the top job for only three years. During that time, the firm had two of the most profitable years in its history, but the share price drifted lower.

 

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Automakers trying to capture a slice of the Chinese vehicle market will have to ensure that 10% of the cars they sell are electric or low-emission vehicles by 2019, after the country confirmed plans to phase-out diesel vehicles.

 

200 Chinese manufacturers built 379,000 electric and hybrid vehicles in 2015, four times more than 2014.

 

The Chinese Government confirmed that a cap-and trade policy would be introduced in two years’ time. That requires automakers to obtain a new-energy vehicle (NEV) credit score of 10% or higher. This credit score would then be extended to at least 12% by 2020.

 

China had previously suggested that implementation of the policy would begin next year, a target that was met with criticism from automakers, who believed it was too ambitious. However, some car manufacturers have since welcomed the delayed timeframe.

 

“Political considerations must have weighed in on the decision to delay the commencement date by a year,” Auto Investment Management’s chairman Cao He said. “Local automakers will likely benefit from this as they will have more buffer time to get ready on the technology front.”

 

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers notes that 200 Chinese manufacturers built 379,000 electric and hybrid vehicles in 2015, four times more than 2014. Sales of these vehicles quadrupled in 2015 to 331,000, mainly spurred on by welcoming subsidies to manufacturers and consumers.

 

Incumbent automakers have since partnered with Chinese car makers to produce electric vehicles (EV) in the country. Ford is currently discussing a joint venture to expand its EV portfolio into China with Anhui Zotye Automobile, and German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) has set up a partnership with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group.